September 30, 2016 (JUBA) – South Sudan’s Riek Machar, former First Vice President and leader of the armed opposition faction of the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM-IO), brought the independence of the young country, his spokesperson has said, adding that those who do not want to recognize his historical great achievements are “dishonest individuals.”
- South Sudan’s rebel leader Riek Machar attends the 28th extraordinary summit of the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) for heads of state and government in Addis Ababa on 6 November 2014 (Photo: Reuters/Tiksa Negeri)
“Who doesn’t know in South Sudan and in the region and beyond that Dr. Riek Machar was the first South Sudanese political leader in the history of the Sudan who signed with Khartoum’s government a peace agreement on April 21, 1997, based on the right to self-determination for the people of South Sudan? And who doesn’t know that after his Movement merged with the Movement of late Dr. John Garang in Nairobi on January 6, 2002, where the two leaders finally agreed to pursue the right to self-determination as a twin objective competing side by side with the secular democratic united Sudan, the “first” protocol in the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA), signed in Machakos, Kenya, on July 20, 2002, was the same clause on the right to self-determination copied from the Khartoum Peace Agreement. And who doesn’t know that it is this self-determination which has finally culminated in the independence of South Sudan on July 9, 2011, through a referendum conducted on January 9 2011, as Dr. Riek Machar had been preaching nonstop since 1991?” James Gatdet Dak, official spokesman for the opposition leader, Riek Machar, told Sudan Tribune on Friday.
The opposition leader’s spokesperson was responding to accusations published on Sudan Tribune against Machar by the South Sudanese presidency which depicted him as a troublemaker.
President Salva Kiir’s spokesperson, Ateny Wek Ateny, on Thursday, said Machar “will never” be a peacemaker, accusing him of threatening to wage an armed resistance as the August 2015 peace agreement has collapsed.
“Riek Machar will never be a peacemaker. Indeed, he has a long history of turning to war to force his demands on the peoples of South Sudan,” said the presidential spokesman, Ateny Wek Ateny,
Meanwhile Machar’s replacement, Taban Deng Gai, in a separate accusation described Machar as a violent man, enumerating a number of years he had rebelled against some leaders.
“Anybody who is a peace lover has a great future ahead of him, but Riek Machar has been a violent man from 1991, 1998, 2013, and 2016. I think he should have a new approach now. If he denounces violence and becomes a peaceful person like me, like Salva Kiir, there is a role for him," said Gai at a roundtable discussion hosted by the Council’s Africa Center in the United States.
But Dak said the “false accusations” show that there are people who do not want to give the deserved credit to leaders who have brought them freedom and independence.
“Well, without Dr. Riek Machar’s peaceful approach and championing of independence, these individuals denying his historical great achievements would not be sitting in Juba in an independent nation. It is sad that now instead of enjoying the fruits of Dr. Riek Machar, they are even abusing the independence, the sovereignty, by resorting to violence and corruption and making the people to suffer more,” he claimed.
He claimed that even President Kiir who in the past used to be against self-determination in favour of a united democratic secular Sudan, was finally “made” to sign the first Machakos protocol on the very self-determination in 2002 after the merger of the two factions of Machar and late Garang.
Dak narrated that it was in the Khartoum Peace Agreement (KPA), signed on April 21, 1997, that the clause for “the right to self-determination for the people of South Sudan” was subsequently enshrined in the Sudanese constitution of 1998 for the “first time ever” in the history of the Sudan.
“These are well documented historical facts that Dr. Riek Machar championed the right to self-determination which finally brought the independence of South Sudan through the exercise of the referendum. His office, as Vice President, was also directly supervising it as documented in the Council of Ministers’ resolutions in 2010 when he was given the responsibility to oversee the implementation of the self-determination that he personally spearheaded,” Dak further explained.
He said Machar was also the reason Salva Kiir was elected in 2010, saying Kiir would not have won the elections if Machar did not campaign for him across the country.
Dak accused Kiir of breaking the understanding between him and Machar in 2010 when he resorted to violence on 15 December 2013 and announced a false attempted coup in order to prevent Machar from contesting for the ruling party’s chairmanship in 2013 party national convention and for the office of the president.
Machar, he added, is committed to setting a good foundation for peace and stability, democracy, federalism, development and prosperity for the people of South Sudan as he was equally committed to ensuring that the right to self-determination resulted to independence for the people of South Sudan.
He further defended the recent decision by the SPLM-IO leadership to resist the regime in Juba, saying it was a result of the collapse of the peace agreement which Machar signed with President Kiir in August last year.
“You cannot attempt to assassinate your peace partner and deputy in government, bombed his residence and smashed it to the ground, replace him illegally, chase him in the bushes and across the borders and continuously attacking his forces and then expect him not to resist you by all means available. This is ridiculous!” he said.